Expogast 2018 – It’s a wrap!

It has been a week, now, since Expogast, the most relevant gastronomic exhibition in the world of cooking, closed its doors and it is then time to make a quick summary, in the wait, not that short, of next edition, in 4 years time.

Our “Barefoot in Luxembourg” team spent much intense and funny times behind the doors of Luxexpo The Box, from the first day of the opening ceremony, with its fires and drums: we interviewed the chefs, photographed every corner and, of course, tasted the amazing food!

The Villeroy et Boch Culinary World Cup / Expogast 2018 in Luxemburg – that this year had a specific focus on respect for food and was particularly attentive to the fight against food waste – went finally to the Swedish National Team, the silver medal to the Singapore National Team and the bronze medal to Denmark. This is to talk merely about the final results, but if you had attend the Expogast during its 5 days kermesse you probably knew it was not just that bit.

Many other gold, silver and bronze medals have been awarded in the five days at Luxexpo The Box.

If we focus on the competition of National Teams, leaving aside minor competitors such as Juniors, Community Catering and individual Chefs, they participated in two different main categories:

– the cold food competition, “Show Food”, where cutting-edge techniques are used to achieve culinary design works for exhibition (preparation is not visible)

and

– the “Hot Food” category, where a 3-course menu had to be prepared in 6 hours  during spectacular show cooking, and then served to 110 people. Indeed, it was possible for the visitors to seat down and taste these fabulous 3-course menu, but – here come the trick – you should have booked your ticket well in advance through the Expogast website – at least, we know for next edition.

In both categories, National Teams received their scores by an international jury of chefs and industry experts.

For the “Show Food” the jury’s score was based on a visual examination of the final work. For the “Hot Food”, the judges observed the work on the team also during the preparation time in their boxes and evaluating through several different criteria: method, technique, innovation, cleanliness, agility, concentration, taste, aesthetics, presentation.

Among many we talked, we were impressed by the words of Chef Gaetano Ragunì, general manager of NIC, Italian National Chefs, who explained us that there are no big differences between cooking and soccer competitions. Cooking is as well a sport discipline in all respects, completed with sacrifices, study of new techniques, night tests, long years training, mental and physical concentration and, above all, a life around the world to support the team.

This comparison left me stunned, but with one new sport to support in my life: competitive gastronomy, of course.

Aside from competitions, the Expogast consisted as well in three main halls of food products and wines, that visitors can taste during the exhibition as well as buy. So next to stands selling Turkish sweets scented of orange flowers you can taste the excellence of Italian wines, choose your oysters and lobster, try Spanish ham and drink Luxembourgish cremant.

On the last day of the Expogast, after an electrifying dance and light show, in front the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Sweden raised the well-deserved prize: a cup that is a symbol of chefs around all the continents raising the earth towards the sky.

This was my first approach to the world of cooking in Luxembourg and left me enthusiastic, I am already counting down for next edition!

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House 17, Luxembourg City, Reloaded

Finally I made it for getting my (company) membership to House 17 and I decided to inaugurate the season inviting a client for a business dinner there. We reserved on a Monday night and got there ahead him with M. The bar area was quite animated and we stopped by for a drink before dinner.

During the past year, we visited the House 17 several times for drinks, but actually my last time at the restaurant was the one I reviewed here. Normally in the past I did not review a place more than once, but since the blog started to be quite mature and places are changing, I decided to tell you more about this new experience at House 17 as I felt several things were different – and several not – so would be good to have an update after long time.

House 17, located in this lovely building in the very city center, is generally a members-only club, but if you watch out for their calendar there are several occasions in which it is open to the public and you can join their events, mainly after-works, even without a membership card.

Coming back to us, at the bar, our glass of champagne was accompanied by some small, sophisticated appetizers. Once our guest arrived, we moved to the restaurant – that was very quiet instead, but we did not expect anything different for being a Monday night.

We started with a small amuse-bouche, followed for me by foie-gras and afterwards by a suggestion from the chef, roe deer. I did not take pictures of the other dishes as it was a business dinner and did not sound very appropriate – sorry! Anyway my other two companions had my same main, but a risotto as starter, that looked tasty. We accompanied the dinner with two lovely bottles of red wines – an Italian Barolo and a French Nuits Saint George. We concluded with coffee and digestif.

Some pictures of our dinner followed by my impressions.

What I liked about House 17:

  • I like the idea to have an evening in a members-only club once in a while. It is reserved and a bit posh. Atmosphere is uptown and welcome is great. It does not feel old-fashioned as other similar places in Luxembourg and I would definitely go there with my friends as well, not just for a business related event.
  • Wine and drink selection is great, really. There are several nice choices at different price level and cocktails are well prepared – I did not have one in this occasion, but several the one before 😛
  • The food, compared to last time I was here, improved significantly. It was a lovely dinner, presentation was cared in details and my dishes were delicious, classic but never boring. In the menu you have evergreen numbers and seasonal suggestions, including veggie choices. The bill does not come out extremely cheap, but definitely in line with the place and well worth it!

What I liked a bit less about House 17:

  • Our evening was perfect. Almost. While the service generally was on point – great at the bar, fine at the restaurant -, at the very end I was quite disappointed by the behavior of one of the waiter. As background, this guy did not take care of our table during the night, but apparently he realized I was speaking Italian while I went out for a call.
    So, the lady who was responsible for our table came at the end with the bill to check and I noted the tips – a gracious one – by pen on the receipt. As already agreed with the reception ahead the dinner, in fact, we would have needed to pay by invoice to be charged to our company. The lady took the bill and went back to the counter and, at this stage, this waiter stepped in, speaking directly with me in Italian – in front of my client – telling me that if I note down the tip by pen on the bill, they (the waiters) would not receive it and I should have given it by cash. I was quite embarrassed honestly, as something like that never happened to me in a similar place. Now I don’t know if the story is true – if the restaurant is not giving the waiters the tip that is not paid by cash – whatever: this is not my problem and should be sorted internally, not involving a client out on a business dinner.

Except for this small episode, our evening was great and I was really happy to subscribed my membership to the club so I would have more occasions to go. House 17 is a mondaine place, perfect for a drink or for a dinner – a romantic date, a business meeting. Don’t miss the occasion to visit it during the open events. Bonus point: the food is delicious!

Domaine Mathis Bastian, Remich, Luxembourg

Since arriving in Luxembourg, several years ago, I started to slowly improve my knowledge about wine – at least, I tried. I think that the main opportunity given by this country in the wine field is the coexistence of people of different nationalities who are bringing in their own culture including, thanks god, the wine.

As Italian, unfortunately, I had always this misconception about our supremacy and I have always considered other wine regions less attractive than mine. Honestly, recently, I had good demonstration this was not always the case.

Couple of weeks ago, in fact, we were invited for a private visit to the Domaine Mathis Bastian, located in Remich, on the Mosel valley. The village, if you don’t know – and it is pretty bad for you as it is a beautiful one -, it is less than 20 minutes driving from the city and offers several attractions, including boat cruises and a romantic path on the river.

To welcome M. and I at the Domaine we found Anouk Bastian, who lovely walked us though the vineyard before, inside the production line afterwards and at the wine tasting to conclude.

Discovering the Domaine Mathis Bastian was kind of surprising for us: it is a domaine with a history of 5 generations, which has an eradicated presence into the Luxembourg gastronomy, with their wines distributed among the most known upmarket restaurants in town. Luxembourgish wines are pretty celebrated among local people but for us expats are a bit a black hole.

Our arrival at the Domaine Mathis Bastian was breathtaking. The vineyard are uphill compared to downtown Remich and have a spectacular, fairy tale view, nothing to envy to some postcard landscapes from Champagne. The Domaine itself mixed old-fashion elements with artistic modern items: the idea of Anouk’s father, Mathis, who took personally care about the renewal work, was to keep the historical features of the main building, but mix it with linear, almost futurist elements of design. From the reception hall to the single tasting rooms, you can smell this great attention to details and this unconditional love for modern art items that appear here and there around the property. Most of these items have been designed specifically for the family and intend to give an idea of lights and comfort, you don’t find somewhere else.  The mixture between the old and the new, the arty and the lines, the dark wood and the wide windows creates a space deep, intense, enchanting. A place where you not only you come to satisfy your palate with the wine, but as well to entertain your soul.


Coming to the wines, we went through some of the most representative products of the Domaine Mathis Bastian. Their carte includes some very classic numbers, that are Luxemburger’s favorites, like the Cremant and the Riesling, and some fashionable, young and dynamic bottles, like Prelude Nanami, which name is an honour to the country, Japan, where the Auxerrois Mathis Bastian won the gold medal at Japan’s Sakura women wine award. Nanami in fact in Japanese means beautiful flowe or spirit of harmonies.

The wines we tasted and you can find below in the gallery had all the wow effect: I moved five hundreds miles away from my misconception about Luxembourgish wines. I found there intense notes, structured tastes, long lasting aromas.

My favorite number was definitely the Auxerrois 2015: while I have a strong inclination for “old” white, so I was not surprised to love the Riesling collection from 2005 and 2001, this wine enchanted my palate and I closed my eyes and pictured myself on a terrace, in the sunset, barefoot and happy. It is the perfect alternative to bubbles if you don’t like bubbles 🙂


Coming back to the Domaine, while their offer to the public is mainly concentrated on the wine – so they don’t offer in-house food service -, they are keen to organize private tasting events for limited groups to introduce you to the wines produced at the Domaine. Compared to other places I have visited, the characteristic that makes Mathis Bastian a must visit place is definitely the amazing conformation of the rooms. They offer not only a welcoming spaces for the tasting, but as well an incomparable view on the vineyard and a unique atmosphere. Said that, the tasting can be definitely combined with catering service and become real events, for families, companies or just friends.


The Domaine Mathis Bastian is open to the public from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 12 and from 2 pm to 5.30 pm. Visits and tasting can be organized on appointment.

If you want to have a better chance to learn about the Domaine Mathis Bastian there are two occasions that cannot be missed:

– This week end the Domaine will held its Open Days, so it will be exceptionally open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday and you are welcome to pop in and try their delicious wines, from 2 pm to 6 pm. No invitation needed, nor entrance fee, so you just have to drive or catch a bus to Remich and show up!

– On November 16th, the Domaine will be present at the event Dubai meets Moselle at Cafesino, in Luxembourg City Centre, an exclusive event which will honor fine wines from Luxembourg, accompanied by oriental dishes. Few places left, hurry up to reserve yours!

Barefoot in Luxembourg will be at the Domaine on Saturday for the Open Days, so come and say hi. And if your week-end schedule is already full, don’t miss in the future the occasion to visit Domaine Mathis Bastian. You will fall in love with the elegant atmosphere surrounding the vineyard and will definitely be impressed by the charming taste of their wines, like we did!